PERCY Park started the new year with a comprehensive 48-10 win over Halifax side Old Brodleians, reversing the away defeat earlier this season.
Park brought Sean Williamson into the back row for Hamish Lockwood who had returned to New Zealand for the holidays, and Marcus Rutter came in at full-back.
Brods kicked off with a strong wind behind them and immediately put the home side under pressure.
But Park had the first chance to open the scoring on four minutes only for a Marcus Rutter penalty to go wide.
Danny Woods then kicked a penalty three minutes later to put the visitors in front.
Park dominated the early lineouts and although it was 15 minutes before the first scrum.
The home side had much of the early possession and worked patiently through several phases, but the odd stray pass let the visitors off the hook until Brods were defending with a scrum put in on their own five-metre line.
The power from the Park front five drove them off the ball and across the try line before Greg Dixon got the touchdown, with Rutter adding the extra points.
Although Park had most of the possession, Old Brods defended well and it was not until the 44th minute that Ash Smith, who had an outstanding game at inside centre, cut back on the angle after a break by Thomas Turnbull, to go through the defensive line and over for the try, with Rutter again on target with the conversion.
Rutter then thought he had scored after a decisive break by outside centre Ali Blair had put the full-back into space with the line at his mercy from 22 metres out. A last ditch tackle caught him on the line but he reached out and grounded the ball over the line only for the try to be ruled out by the referee who judged it had been held up and awarded Park a scrum on the five-metre line.
The respite for the visitors was only momentary as Park won the scrum and fly-half Turnbull threw a long pass on the blind side for left wing Howard Stock to go over.
At half time Park led 19-3 needing a further try for the valuable bonus point.
From the kick-off Park exerted pressure and inside a minute Brods had conceded a kickable penalty which Rutter duly converted.
The next score came from prop Joe Wafer after Turnbull had turned over Brods possession. Scrum-half Oli Gilmore moved blind and the ball was played back inside to Wafer who burst through several tacklers to go under the sticks.
With the strong wind in their faces, the visitors were unable to make any clearance kicks of distance whilst in attack a chip kick found the midriff of Rutter who set off up field with Jonny Ward in support.
Rutter offloaded to the Park right wing before he was tackled on the visitors 22. Desperate defence by Brods saw wing Aaron Fowler sent to the sin bin for slowing down the ball.
Park opted for a scrum from the penalty and the home eight drove for the line. Greg Dixon at eight thought he had touched down, but the whistle was not blown and Gilmore pounced on the ball to confirm the try.
This seemed to spur Brods into action as they moved play up to the Park 22 and from a quick tap penalty Adam Standevan crossed the line wide on the right, which was converted in difficult conditions.
Stock scored his second try of the game after Park were awarded a free kick and opted unsurprisingly for a scrum
With only two minutes of normal time left Ward scored Park’s seventh and final try after Ali Blair broke the defensive line and Smith was on hand to recycle the ball.
Park’s right wing had moved across to the left to join in the action and received the pass and his pace took him past the remaining defenders to score, with Rutter converting.
On Saturday Park travel to Halifax to play Brods’ neighbours Old Crossleyans.
PERCY PARK LIONS 13
BLAYDON II 5
PARK’s second XV continued their good run against a strong Blaydon outfit who had beaten them earlier in the season.
Michael Birkett scored Park’s first try, with Phil Morse returning to the side after recovering from a broken hand scoring a try and kicking a penalty denying the visitors a losing bonus point.
The Lions will travel on Saturday with the first XV to play Old Crossleyans II.
PERCY PARK PUMAS 59
WALLSEND II 5
PUMAS made it a clean sweep for all three Percy Park sides.
This weekend the Pumas and Marauders have a week off, but the Penguins, Percy Park’s veteran side, will be playing touch rugby against a veteran team from Kelso.
Percy Park Academy will also be at home, playing Whitley Bay Rockcliff Colts.
PERCY PARK 73
WHITLEY BAY ROCKCLIFF 3
PERCY Park and Rockcliff met in the annual Boxing Day encounter, the oldest fixture in both club’s itinerary.
Park’s first score came on the seven minute mark from lively 19-year-old open side Jack Davidson but Rockcliff came back five minutes later with a Donnelly penalty.
But the home side continued the pressure and more first half scores came from Andy Dunn, Greg Dixon (3) as Park led 27-3 at half time.
Park restarted the game and very quickly were encamped in the visitors 22. They threw everything at the Rockcliff line with tries from Alan Blakey, Howard Stock (2), Johnny Ward (3), Rich Berne and George Purdy.
A good crowd was well entertained, and the charity McMillan Nurses will benefit from the generosity of those who paid to get in.